Journalism can be a very lonely occupation. True, some fellow journalists are very good company. They are witty and can offer insights, new information and - above all - good laughs.
But after one has left them and gone back home, one has to confront the blank, empty screen of one's laptop.
What should be one's topic for the day? One decides that entirely by oneself.
What line should one take in tackling the topic? Ditto!
Oh - what's the best word to be used in describing a particular situation? Sorry, chum - you've got to dig it up from memory yourself.
Alone, alone, alone! All the time. Self-reliance may be a virtue, but by God, it's difficult to practise in front of a blank keyboard.
The best newsroom I've ever operated in was the one at the Ghana Broadcasting News Division. Stuck for a word? A date? Or a name? Ask Robert Tabi (Editor 1957-58); Dan Awere; OseiAcheampong; Charles Segbefia (Sub-Editor); C S Buckman (Ex-Hansard) ;Danquah-Smith or "Akwan" (News-Librarian); Ben Sackey (Ex-Daily Graphic). Shang Simpson might also be asked, but he's so feared that he's only approached if there's no alternative to doing so!
But now, I've only got my own head. Yes, Google is invaluable today, but it's not the same. Danquah-Smith would stammer first before the word came out of his mouth; Charles might slap his thigh and out would pop the word; Buckman might ask you to wait whilst he phoned somebody in Parliament House... . All great fun. OseiAcheampong might even relate the word to an anecdote. Such as the guy who said on our Kumasi station that a "bucket" of flowers had been presented to the Duke of Edinburgh by a schoolgirl on his arrival (instead of a "bouquet"!)
In the absence of such elements of fun, writing can become a drudgery. The only relief comes from a remembrance of the effect one's writing has had on people; complete strangers who take the trouble to some and say (for instance) "You're very courageous" (said to me out of the blue at the Kumase Cultural Centre), or "You took me back to my school-days" (said to me very often by fellow villagers who'd had problems with disciplinarian school-masters, very similar to those I suffered myself.)
The next best thing to the personal compliment is to read what somebody else has written, which makes one smile broadly, because one agrees with it completely. Recently, I wrote in this paper to commend an article written on the destructive effects of galamsey by a Daily Graphic features writer called Ngnengbe. See:
It was the sort of article I had silently been praying that some Ghanaian journalists would be inspired write, so that our water-bodies might be saved from destruction by the conscienceless galamsey operators, who
prefer gold to the preservation of our good drinking water for the children we have brought into the world to inherit our nation, just as we inherited it from our parents.
QUOTE: GALAMSEY - WHEN A NATIONAL ASSET BECOMES A CURSE
"We have a serious situation here. Our lands that provide us with food is being destroyed on a daily basis; we can no longer drink from the Tano and other water-bodies that quenched our thirst; our cocoa farms are being destroyed."If you go to our towns and villages and see the extent of destruction illegal miners have caused to our land, cocoa farms and water, you will weep." These were the lamentations of the Paramount Chief (Omanhene) of the Aowin Traditional Area in the Western Region, BeyeemanTanoKwawuBenbuin III" UNQUOTE
The article brought tears to my eyes. I was hoping against hope that other Ghanaian journalists would allow the galamsey tragedy to sink into their heads so that they would stop writing about entertainers and their romances (or lack of them!); politicians and their shenanigans; and false prophets and their inane predictions.
And my prayers are being answered: I opened the Daily Guide ofFebruary 10, 2021and was elated to find this:
LicenceTo Ruthlessly Fight The Galamsey Menace
QUOTE:"If nobody understood the President when he pronounced that he was ready to put his presidency on the line in his fight against galamsey, at least I did and still do. What he said in the run-up to the 2020 general election meant that if even Ghanaian voters would vote against his government for fighting the galamsey menace, so be it.
"During the electioneering campaign, all those who were involved in galamsey in almost all the gold producing areas threatened to vote against the President if he failed to stop the fight against the menace. The President stood on his grounds and accelerated the fight even in the face of some members of the Taskforce charged to check galamsey, going wayward and allegedly colluding with galamseyers for their own parochial interest... ..
What is consoling is that the majority of Ghanaians who are not involved in galamsey voted for the President. It therefore, stands to reason that, whereas the President boldly put his presidency on the line, he came out successful, since majority of Ghanaians supported his effort. It takes a courageous man to make such bold statement, and the President will go down in history as a man who dared the devil in his attempt to save our environment... .
"I happened to attend a funeral in one of the galamsey operating areas where I saw dyed-in-the wool supporters of the NPP, including a constituency secretary who was also involved in galamsey operation, opening campaigning against Nana Akufo-Addo... .. The President had enemies within and without in his attempt to save our river bodies and the environment as a whole... .
"But now... .what should the President and well-meaning Ghanaians do as far as the fight against illegal mining is concerned? ... . Should we look the other way, as these nation-wreckers continue with their illegal operations?
"Should we succumb to pressure from a few businessmen who gain from the operation of illegal miners? The answer is a big NO - because posterity and children yet unborn will never forgive us if we allow the environment, which we collectively hold in trust for them, to be destroyed by some few greedy and irresponsible illegal miners... ...
"We are a country awakened to danger and called to collectively defend the environment and our river bodies. Our failure to rein in these social misfits has now turned to anger and anger has turned to resolution. The time has come for us to use all means available to tackle this menace."UNQUOTE
Eric Bawah then asks: "So, now that even the military (which we respect so much for their ability to drum sense into the minds of these galamseyers) have seriously betrayed the cause, what should we do next?" I shall discuss the solutions he proffers and add some of my own, in my next article.